Paul Revere's ride is the most famous event of its kind in American history. But other Americans made similar rides during the American Revolution. Who were these men and women? Why were their rides important? Do they deserve to be better known?
Help your students develop a broader understanding of the Revolutionary War as they learn about some less well known but no less colorful rides that occurred in other locations. Give your students the opportunity to immortalize these "other riders" in verse as Longfellow did for Paul Revere. Heighten your students' skills in reading texts critically and making defendable judgments based on them.
Note: For a lesson comparing Longfellow’s famous poem on Revere's ride to actual historical events, see the related EDSITEment lesson Why Do We Remember Paul Revere? Paul Revere’s Ride in History and Literature.
What were the circumstances surrounding rides of the American Revolution other than Paul Revere's? Why has posterity treated them differently than Revere's ride?
After completing the lessons in this unit, students will be able to do the following:
Read aloud to the group Clinton Scollard's poem The Ride of Tench Tilghman, available on the EDSITEment resource American Verse Project (from the main page, do a search for “Tench Tilghman”; find Scollard’s poem in the results). Ask students what stands out for them and what they recall about the poem after one hearing. Then, pass out copies of the text and assign different sections of the poem to volunteers to read aloud as the entire class follows along.
As a class, discuss:
Divide the class into three (or six, if appropriate) groups, assigning each of the following patriots to one (or two) group(s): Jack Jouett, Sybil Ludington (also spelled Luddington) and Tench Tilghman. It is the responsibility of each group to take a stand as to whether or not its members believe their rider should be remembered as well as we remember Paul Revere. The group's argument can also take into account other accomplishments of their subject other than the ride. If desired, students can use the PDF handout "Another Revolutionary Rider" to help them as they read accounts of the ride. Students can use these or other resources:
Lead the class in arriving at conclusions from the information presented. In what ways did these other rides resemble and differ from Paul Revere's ride? Why have they been overlooked?
After the presentations are complete, tell the students that, according to the website of the Paul Revere House, accessible through the EDSITEment-reviewed website Internet Public Library, "Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem 'Paul Revere's Ride,' written in 1860 and published in 1861 in the Atlantic Monthly, transformed Paul Revere from a relatively obscure, although locally known, figure in American history into a national folk hero." Perhaps all these other riders need is a writer to lift them out of obscurity.
Challenge students to write a poem or short story based on one of the "other" rides. They should feel free to model their piece after Longfellow's; for example, they could open with something akin to, "Listen my children and we will review it, / the back country ride of Virginia's Jack Jouett." If you wish, you can stage a reading in which each student presents his or her poem or story to the class, along with key biographical details about the chosen subject.
Discuss why the students believe Revere's ride is the best remembered of the four in this lesson.
3 class periods